King on the importance of the law

It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me, but it can keep him from lynching me, and I think that's pretty important. 
- Martin Luther King, Jr.
as quoted on Twitter

MadPriest on learning from your sins

It is far, far easier and less painful to learn from the sins of your past than it is to learn from the sins of your present.

Gather in by scattering

Do not lose by saving, but gather in by scattering. Give to the poor, and you give to yourself. You will not be allowed to keep what you have refused to give others.
- Saint Peter Chrysologus
Sermon 43
as quoted on God's Politics

King's most urgent question

Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?' 
- Martin Luther King, Jr.
as quoted on Twitter

Tech support call

Customer: I have problems printing in red…
Tech support: Do you have a color printer?
Customer: Aaaah……………… thank you.

Sign in a hotel in Japan

Is forbitten to steal hotel towels please. If you are not person to do such thing is please not to read notice.
You are invited to take advantage of the chambermaid.

Truman on Moses' poll

How far would Moses have gone if he had taken a poll in Egypt?
- Harry S. Truman
as quoted on Child of Illusion

That's bad!

I am a Nobody.
Nobody is Perfect.
Therefore I am Perfect.
Thanks to Wounded Bird!

King on our means

Means we use must be as pure as the ends we seek. 
- Martin Luther King, Jr.
as quoted on Twitter

To hesitate to tell the truth

The moment we begin to fear the opinions of others and hesitate to tell the truth that is in us, and from motives of policy are silent when we should speak, the divine floods of light and life flow no longer in our souls.
- Elizabeth Cady Stanton
speech to the National American Woman Suffrage Association, 1890,
as quoted on God's Politics

John Paul II on the responsibility for war

The responsibility for war rests not only with those who directly cause war, but also with those who do not do everything in their power to prevent it.
- Pope John Paul II
in Catholic Relief Services: the Beginning Years by Eileen Egan
(NY: Catholic Relief Services, 1988), pp. 155-156
as quoted on God's Politics

Lincoln on peace

Peace does not appear so distant as it did. I hope it will come soon, and come to stay; and so come as to be worth the keeping in all future time.
- Abraham Lincoln
Letter to James C. Conkling, Aug. 26, 1863
as quoted on God's Politics

King on what we will remember

We will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends. 
- Martin Luther King, Jr.
as quoted on Twitter

The nun and the cabbie

A cabbie picks up a Nun. She gets into the cab, and notices that the VERY handsome cab driver won't stop staring at her.
She asks him why he is staring. He replies: "I have a question to ask, but I don't want to offend you."
She answers, " My son, you cannot offend me. When you're as old as I am and have been a nun as long as I have, you get a chance to see and hear just about everything. I'm sure that there's nothing you could say or ask that I would find offensive."
"Well, I've always had a fantasy to have a nun kiss me."
She responds, "Well, let's see what we can do about that: #1, you have to be single and #2, you must be Catholic."
The cab driver is very excited and says, "Yes, I'm single and Catholic!"
"OK" the nun says. "Pull into the next alley."
The nun fulfills his fantasy with a kiss that would make a hooker blush.

But when they get back on the road, the cab driver starts crying.
"My dear child," said the nun, "Why are you crying?"
"Forgive me but I've sinned. I lied and I must confess; I'm married and I'm Jewish."
The nun says, "That's OK. My name is Kevin and I'm going to a Halloween party."

Thanks to Mrs. Karl!

To change and to risk

To change is to risk something. That makes us insecure.
Not to change is the bigger risk, but it seldom feels that way.
- Waterman
as quoted on Facebook

The blonde and the Christmas stamps

A blonde goes to the post office to buy stamps for her Christmas cards. She says to the clerk: "May I have fifty Christmas stamps?"
The clerk asks: "What denomination?"
She answers: "God help us! Has it come to this? Give me 22 Catholic, 12 Presbyterian, 10 Lutheran and 6 Baptist." 
Thanks to MadPriest!

Peace, justice, and truth

Peace is the experience of justice, and you can't have justice without truth.
- Ray McGovern
Activist and former CIA analyst
as quoted on God's Politics

Tech support call

Customer: Hi, good afternoon, this is Martha, I can’t print. Every time I try, it says ‘Can’t find printer’. I’ve even lifted the printer and placed it in front of the monitor, but the computer still says he can’t find it… 

King on hate

Like an unchecked cancer, hate corrodes the personality and eats away its vital unity. Hate destroys a man’s sense of values and his objectivity. It causes him to describe the beautiful as ugly and the ugly as beautiful, and to confuse the true with the false and the false with the true.
- Martin Luther King, Jr.
as quoted on God's Politics

The source of power

Power understood as the ability to accomplish desired ends is present in human relationships no matter how particular communities or societies are organized. Nevertheless, Christian communities recognize that the source of power in their life is the love of Christ which inspires and directs them. This is a style of power not of coercion but of empowerment of others.... It also connects to those at the margins of society who search for word of God’s love and justice.
- Letty M. Russell
in Church in the Round
as quoted on God's Politics

Punny humour

If you don't pay your exorcist you can get repossessed.
Thanks to Bailey's Buddy!

Hill on judging another person

No accurate thinker will judge another person by that which the other person's enemies say about him.
- Napoleon Hill (1883-1970)
as quoted on Child of Illusion

Darwin on adapting to change

It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.
- Charles Darwin
as quoted on Child of Illusion

King on an appalling silence

History will record that the greatest tragedy of social transition was not the clamor of bad people, but the appalling silence of the good. 
- Martin Luther King, Jr.
as quoted on Twitter

X on a crushing society

I have no mercy or compassion in me for a society that will crush people, and then penalize them for not being able to stand up under the weight.
- Malcolm X
as quoted on Child of Illusion

Nigeria: Dune James Rike, David Usman, Mark Ojunta, Monday Hassan et al.

Examples of violent acts of the Muslim extremists from the Boko Haram sect in Nigeria during the last months:

4.5.11. Muslim extremists attacked Kurum village (Bauchi state) in a rampage that began at midnight. James Musa Rike, pastor of a Church of Christ in Nigeria (COCIN) congregation in Kurum, said that after killing two of the couple’s children, Faith and 1-year-old Fyali, the assailants cut his wife’s abdomen with a machete. Dune James Rike was aged 35 when she died.
Pastor Rike next heard the cries of his 13-year-old daughter, Sum, a few meters away. He rushed to her, only to discover that she too was cut with a machete on her stomach, and her intestines were all around her. She said that the Muslim militants told her they would kill her and “see how your Jesus will save you.” The girl told her father that she responded by telling them that Jesus had already saved her, and that by killing her they would only be making it possible for her to be with Him. Pastor Rike prayed for her as she died.
Shooting and setting homes on fire, the Muslim extremists killed 12 other Christians in the attack. Bauchi police reported 16 people dead – one man, three women and 12 children.
Pastor Rike and his son survived the attack, and his adopted daughter, Whulham, was injured and receiving treatment at the General Hospital in Bogoro.

7.6.11. The Rev. David Usman, 45, a COCIN pastor, and church secretary Hamman Andrew were shot and killed by members of Boko Haram in an area of Maiduguri (Borno state) called the Railway Quarters. The area was the base of Boko Haram until 2009, when Nigerian security agencies and the military demolished its headquarters and captured and killed the sect’s leader, Mohammed Yusuf, and some of his followers.

27.8.11. Mark Ojunta, a 36-year-old evangelist from southern Nigeria who was ministering amid the Kotoko people of Borno state with Calvary Ministries (CAPRO) was shot and killed in Maiduguri by Boko Haram.
CAPRO International Director Amos Aderonmu said Ojunta died “as a martyr on his field among the Kotokos.” CAPRO had learned that all its staff members working among the Shuwa Arab, Kotoko and Kanuri peoples were on a Boko Haram list of people to be killed and had evacuated them, Aderonmu said.
Ojunta had returned to teach a class after the evacuation of his family. He is survived by his wife and two children, besides his parents and sisters. He was buried in his home state of Abia.

17.9.11. In guerrilla style typical of recent Islamic extremist attacks in northern Nigeria, about 15 gunmen stormed three houses in Ungwan Rana Bitaro village (Kaduna state) at midnight, leaving three dead and eight wounded.
Three houses were attacked by before the attackers retreated into surrounding bushes. When they came, they brought out the members of these families and started shooting them and cutting some of them with machetes. Killed were Monday Hassan (55), his daughter Godiya (13), and his nephew, Istifanus Daniel (35).

22.9.11. In the town of Madala (Niger state), suspected militants from Boko Haram went to shops owned by Christians at a market at about 8 p.m., ordering them to recite verses from the Quran. If the Christian traders were unable to recite the verses, the gunmen shot and killed them. The sound of the gunshots compelled Christians to call the police, and officers arrived to find five Christians had already been killed.

Nigerian Pastor’s Wife, Children among Christians Killed in Attack (CDN 10.5.11)
Pastor, Church Official Shot Dead in Nigeria (CDN 10.6.11)
Muslim Extremists from Niger Help Kill Christians in Nigeria (CDN 31.8.11)
Muslim Extremists in Nigeria Kill Christians in Two States (CDN 27.9.11)
Islamic Extremist Group Kills Another Christian in Nigeria (CDN 17.10.11)
Nigeria: Den muslimska sekten Boko Haram dödar kristna (Kalles kyrkliga kommentarer 18.10.11)

King on scientific and spiritual power

Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men. 
- Martin Luther King, Jr.
as quoted on Twitter

Do not condemn

Do not condemn the judgment of another because it differs from your own. You may both be wrong.
- Dandamis
as quoted on

King on the need to evolve a new method

Man must evolve for all human conflict a method rejecting revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love. 
- Martin Luther King, Jr.
as quoted on Twitter

ELCF extends hand to immigrants

A remnant of the bond between Church and State in Finland is the fact that members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland (ELCF) have to have a registered home municipality in Finland. Citizenship is not required, however.

Now, the ELCF is endeavouring to help immigrants join its ranks. Most immigrants, a majority of which are nominally Christian, do have a registered home municipality, but some, especially refugees, do not.
In September, the House of Bishops gave support to a change in the law to allow immigrants to join even if they do not have a registered home municipality. Archbishop Kari Mäkinen says the aim is to ensure that immigrants could join any congregation without legal obstacles. I welcome this move; it is about time!

The ELCF has developed various services for immigrants over the years mainly in big cities. Other denominations also offer similar services. Membership of non-Lutheran denominations such as The Finnish Free Church or the Finnish Orthodox church does not require registration.

Evangelical Lutheran Church extends hand to immigrants (YLE News 14.9.11)
Ingen finsk hemort inget hinder för medlemskap (Kyrkpressen 15.9.11)

MadPriest on the faith of an atheist

I have too many doubts to be an atheist.
I am just not capable of such faith.

There is no greater evangelist than science itself.

Nouwen on Christian unsatisfaction

You are a Christian only so long as you constantly pose critical questions to the society you live in ... so long as you stay unsatisfied with the status quo and keep saying that a new world is yet to come.
- Henri Nouwen
as quoted on God's Politics

Wilde on the gutter and the stars

We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.
- Oscar Wilde
as quoted on God's Politics

Einstein on learning, living, and hoping

Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow.
- Albert Einstein
as quoted on

Latvia: Churches defend "traditional family values"

Leaders of the Lutheran, Catholic, Baptist and Adventist churches in Latvia have criticized a new social science school textbook that describes gay and lesbian life as a ”normal aspect of sexuality.” The Latvian Ministry of Education is giving in to the Churches’ demands, and that, in turn, is criticized by local representatives of sexual- minorities.
The Churches promise to continue to defend ”traditional family values”. ”The church isn't alone in its traditional view of the family in Latvia,” said Ivars Kubcis, spokesman for the country's Evangelical Lutheran church (ELCL).

About a quarter of the Latvians are Lutherans and Catholics, respectively, while some six per cent are Orthodox.
Latvia decriminalized homosexuality as late as 1993, and was the last EU member to forbid discrimination of homosexuals in 2006.

Latvian churches reiterate condemnation of homosexuality (ENInews 17.6.11)
Latvian kirkot paheksuvat oppikirjaa (Kotimaa24 23.6.11)

CofS pastors must perform marriages

In the year 2009, the General Synod of the (Lutheran) Church of Sweden decided to enlarge the concept of marriage to include same-sex couples. In other words, a gender neutral marriage was created. Pastors who conscienciously objected to the new order were to be allowed to refrain from marrying same-sex couples.
In spite of this, a handful of oastors elected to apply to have their licence to perform marriages revoked. The state office called Kammarkollegiet granted them this.

At the end of October, 2011, the General Synod discussed the situation at length. The decision taken (161 votes for, 77 against) was that no pastor can be allowed to give up his or her licence, since performing marriages is an integral part of the work of a parish pastor. If any pastor can't perform same-sex marriages, other arrangements can be made.
The licence to perform marriages is not owned by the pastor, proponents said. It is the Church that applies for it from the State on its pastors' behalf. If you want to be a pastor, you can't just pick and choose.

Det är inte prästen som äger vigselrätten (Marta Axner 25.10.11)
Vigselbehörighet för alla präster (Kyrkans Tidning 28.10.11)
Backlash för Frimodig Kyrka (Karin Långström Vinge 31.10.11)
Alla präster ska ha vigselbehörighet (Dagen 1.11.11)

Tech support call

Tech support: Click on the ‘my computer’ icon on the left of the screen.
Customer: Your left or my left?

Sign in a dry cleaner's in Rome

Ladies, leave your clothes here and spend the afternoon having a good time. 

MadPriest on the final questions

People who excuse their actions by claiming that "the real world" is too complicated to always tell the truth or to always act with complete integrity, are the ones who make things complicated in the first place. The final questions we will all have to answer one day will be very simple, requiring only the reply, "yes" or "no."

Keller on faith

Faith is the strength by which a shattered world shall emerge into the light.
- Helen Keller
as quoted on

Sign in a tailor's shop on Rhodes

Order your summer suit. Because is big rush we will execute customers in strict order. 

Italian proverb

After the game, the king and the pawn go into the same box.
- Italian proverb
as quoted on

King on transforming an enemy

Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into friend. 
- Martin Luther King, Jr.
as quoted on Twitter

Uganda: Susan Ithungu

Susan Ithungu, a 14-year-old girl in western Uganda, was hospitalized in October 2010 after neighbours with police help rescued her from her muslim father, Beya Baluku, who had locked her in a room with almost no food or water for months. He was arrested shortly afterward but quickly released, sources said. Ten months later, she was still unable to walk.

Susan and her younger brother lived alone with their father after he divorced their mother. In March 2010 an evangelist spoke at Susan’s school, and she decided to trust Christ for her salvation.
After a month, news reached her father that she had converted to Christianity. He warned his children not to attend church or listen to the gospel message. He also threatened them with a sharp knife that he was ready to kill them in broad daylight in case we converted.
He then locked Susan up in a room for six months without seeing sunlight. Her brother was warned not to tell anyone that Susan was locked up in a room and not being given any food. When their father was away, the brother roasted bananas for his sister and dug a hole under the door to pour water through. Susan could drink the water using her tongue, but most days she could only feed on mud.

Neighbours became concerned after not seeing Susan for several months. After they reported the case, the police went to the house, broke down the door, and took Susan to hospital. Her hair had turned yellow, she had long fingernails and sunken eyes, and weighed less than 20 kg. It is unknown when she will be released. Though she can’t walk, she can now talk. She is still feeding on soft foods, but is still strong in the Lord Jesus Christ. She needs prayers and support, so that she can resume her education soon.

Girl in Uganda Loses Use of Legs after Leaving Islam for Christ (CDN 11.8.11)

A UN enquiry

The UN sent out an enquiry:

It was a fiasco:
Eastern Europe didn't know what “honest” meant.
Western Europe didn't know what “shortage” meant.
Africa didn't know what “food” meant.
China didn't know what “opinion” meant.
The Middle East didn't know what “solution” meant.
The USA didn't know what “the rest of the world” meant. 
Found it on Facebook.
Thank you, Karin!

Justice and the Kingdom of God

Justice is like the Kingdom of God - it is not without us as a fact, it is within us as a great yearning.
- George Eliot
in Romola
as quoted on God's Politics

God loves heterosexuals, too

The Bible contains six admonishments to homosexuals and 362 admonishments to heterosexuals. That doesn't mean that God doesn't love heterosexuals. It's just that they need more supervision.
- Lynn Lavner
as quoted in a comment on CBC News

MadPriest on animal and human characteristics

To believe that animals have the same characteristics as human beings is anthropomorphism. To believe that human beings have the same characteristics as animals is just plain common sense.


Someday they'll give a war and nobody will come.
- Carl Sandburg
as quoted on God's Politics

Tech support call

Tech support: Good day. How may I help you?
Male customer: Hello… I can’t print.
Tech support: Would you click on “start” for me and…
Customer: Listen pal; don’t start getting technical on me! I’m not Bill Gates.

Every day, light your small candle

It is so important not to let ourselves off the hook or to become apathetic or cynical by telling ourselves that nothing works or makes a difference. Every day, light your small candle. ...
The inaction and actions of many human beings over a long time contributed to the crises our children face, and it is the action and struggle of many human beings over time that will solve them — with God's help. So every day, light your small candle.
- Marian Wright Edelman
in Guide My Feet
as quoted on God's Politics

Interdependent love

Knowing one's self, finding one's self, and expending one's self for another are intertwined activities. Love of self, love of God, and love of neighbor are interdependent.
- Sidney Callahan
in With All Our Heart and Mind
as quoted on God's Politics

Punny humour

With her marriage, she got a new name and a dress. 
Thanks to Bailey's Buddy!

That's bad!

In just two days from now, tomorrow will be yesterday.
Thanks to Wounded Bird!

King on waging war

It is not enough to say we must not wage war. It is necessary to love peace and sacrifice for it.
- Martin Luther King, Jr.
as quoted on Twitter

Digging for truth

On August 8, 2011, the Huffington Post published an article by Levi Ben-Shmuel, entitled Digging for Truth: How Deep Are You Willing to Go? Starting from the archaeological dig of the City of David in Jerusalem, the author challenges us to seek the truth, spiritual or otherwise, regardless of our preconceptions. An exerpt:
As archaeologists dig deeper into the earth to uncover new truths about the past, their findings have the potential to upend our understanding of religion and the role of God in its unfolding. Their search for truth mirrors our personal search for it. To reach a deeper level of truth, we need to dig into our own "debris." As we do our personal excavations and new information is revealed, the willingness to let go of beliefs that no longer serve us is crucial to personal and spiritual growth.
It is easy to find reasons not to begin the digging. For many, letting go of what is known and comfortable is a daunting task. The fear of what might be found in the darkness can be profound. It is easier to hold on to what is "truth" and forgo the dirty business of exploration.
Finding the courage to put cherished beliefs up for examination is the hallmark of true inquiry, whether it is scientific or spiritual. One quality that makes this kind of inquiry possible is humility. Being humble does not mean erasing one's opinions or submitting to another's will. The essence of humility is knowing one's rightful place in life. True humility recognizes the limits inherent in the human mind in the face of the awesomeness of a universe that is expanding, filled with mystery and might be infinite.
The article is not very long, but well worth reading - and pondering!

Einstein on miracles

There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as if everything is.
- Albert Einstein
as quoted on Facebook

The church is not a nurse

The church ... cannot be content to play the part of a nurse looking after the casualties of the system. It must play an active part both in challenging the present unjust structures and in pioneering alternatives.
- Donald Dorr
Catholic missionary priest
as quoted on God's Politics

Eviction notice recieved

In Porvoo, chaplains (second pastors, curates, whatever we're called in your tradition) have been living in Kaplansgården (Chaplain's House) since 1763. Four years ago, I became the latest in the series. Little did I suspect that I would also be the last.
The parishes of Porvoo have decided to break this tradition just before it would celebrate its quarter millennium in 2013. Last week, we recieved our eviction notice and have to move out before the end of March, 2012.

This is, of course, sad news on a personal level. Where will we move? Should we buy a house or go on renting? How about the children's school? There are many questions and problems to be considered.
The way the eviction was handled also shows little regard for the human side of the story. I knew that the decision was coming on October 5, but last week the leading bureaucrats all of a sudden were in a great hurry to present the eviction notice. Since we have a legal six month period of grace starting from the end of the calender month in which the notice is presented, they wanted it done in September rather that October, so we'd be out in March rather than April. This in spite of the fact that the decision itself hadn't been made yet.
I think this is very poor personnel management, and am now thinking seriously about whether or not I can remain in the employ of such a "firm" or whether I should start looking elsewhere. One problem there is my vociferous engagement for the rights of sexual minorities within the ELCF, which has made me persona non grata in many circles, and which might affect my job seeking negatively. We'll have to see how it goes.

But what saddens me the most, I think, is the lack of historical sensibility that the bureaucrats and the Church Council displays in this matter. It seems to be enough that our Cathedral stems from the XIII Century - other historically valuable buildings don't count (Kaplansgården is not the only object to be sold). What counts is their economical value. Yes, by selling Kaplansgården, the parishes would probably net a round million Euros to be used for many good things, but a million is not that much money, after all. In a few years (if that!) it will be gone, and so will a bit of the city's and the church's history.

"A people who forgets its history has no past - and no future."
- Robert A. Heinlein

See previous blogs in Swedish here and here.

Estonia - the world's 'least religious' country

I love Estonia, Finland's neighbour to the south.
We have no land border, but are separated by the Gulf of Finland, an arm of the Baltic Sea that I have lived by all my life. Estonia is closer to Helsinki and Porvoo than most of the rest of Finland, as a matter of fact - the city of Tampere is some 200 km to the north, which isn't so much, but Tallinn is even closer, only some 70 km to the south. Of course, in travel time the difference isn't so big, as Tampere is two hours by train from Helsinki, while Tallinn is two hours by ferry. But Lapland is so, so far away. The distance from Porvoo to the north of Lapland is equal to the distance to, say, Berlin.

For some years now, I have been engaged in S:t John Aid in Estonia (Johanniitide Abi Eestis), and this summer I got fed up with only knowing a bit of Estonian, so I have promised myself to learn the language properly. Which isn't too hard, since it is a fairly close relative to Finnish. You just have to be wary of the pitfalls - words that sound similar but have entirely different meaning. "Pulma" means problem in Finnish, but "pulmad" means wedding in Estonian, for instance. Not that the meaning is so different there, perhaps...

But our modern history separates us. While Finland was able to stay out of the Soviet Union after WWII, Estonia and the other Baltic states, Latvia and Lithuania, were annexed. This has had far-reaching consequences, of course, both economically and culturally.
One consequence is on the religious front. The Soviet anti-religious propaganda struck hard in many parts of the union. In Finland, some 80% of the population belongs to the Lutheran church. In modern-day Estonia, only 13% do, and yet the Lutheran church is the country's largest. A colleague in Tallinn said that he avoids wearing ecclesiastical garb in public because of the negative reactions he gets. I use it myself, since it often gives people an opportunity to contact the pastor and talk a bit. But that is at home in Finland, of course.

This does naturally not mean that Estonians are unspiritual. It only means that they now seek their answers outside of the churches. Which is their right, but it also shows that half a century of violent propaganda can have an effect on a good people. It is sad.

Spirituality in Estonia - the world's 'least religious' country (BBC News 26.8.11)
The Least Religious Country in the World (Aqurette 26.8.11)
Estonia: "We do not tolerate homosexuality" (Karl's comments 6.9.11)

Sunshine and smiles

What sunshine is to flowers, smiles are to humanity.
- Joseph Addison
as quoted on

King on stronger right

Right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant. 
- Martin Luther King, Jr.
as quoted on Twitter

Israel: Serge and Naama Kogen

A hard-line Jewish ultra-Orthodox group in Israel, Yad L’Achim, that singles out Jewish Christians known as Messianic Jews for harassment and abuse is taking aim at a couple it claims is manipulating minors into becoming Christians.
In late June, 2011, the group placed leaflets around the home of Serge and Naama Kogen, 37 and 42 respectively, in Mevasseret Zion, a suburban community located just west of Jerusalem. The same week someone took out a full-page ad in a local newspaper giving the couple’s address and telling residents they were part of a missionary group “targeting” the community. The Kogens are native Israelis and hence not part of any missionary group.
The advertisement invited the public to a protest planned against the Kogens, and on Sunday, June 26, about 20 of the group’s supporters demonstrated outside the couple’s home, where they denounced them over megaphones for 90 minutes.
The protests came after Yad L’Achim lost a court case against the Kogens and their congregational leader, Asher Intrater. The group had accused them of “proselytizing” minors.
During the protest, a distraught 16-year-old girl, the alleged target of the couple’s “missionary” efforts, said all of Yad L’Achim’s claims were false. Donna Lubofsky maintains that she has never converted to Christianity. She wanted to speak at the protest to give her side of what happened, but the organizers wouldn’t let her, she said.
“They are all liars, all liars! Ask them, why won’t they let me speak?” Donna said at the protest. “They won’t let me speak because what they are saying is untrue. They [the Kogens] never tried to get me to believe. They are just good people.”

Read more: Messianic Christian Couple in Israel Accused of Converting Minor (CDN 2.7.11)

We worked to heal the world

Great social forces are the mere accumulation of individual actions. Let the future say of our generation that we sent forth mighty currents of hope, and that we worked together to heal the world.
- Jeffrey Sachs
in The End of Poverty
as quoted on God's Politics

Tech support call

Customer: Hi, this is Celine. I can’t get my diskette out.
Tech support: Have you tried pushing the button?
Customer: Yes, sure, it’s really stuck.
Tech support: That doesn’t sound good; I’ll make a note.
Customer: No, wait a minute… I hadn’t inserted it yet… it’s still on my desk… sorry…

The test of forgiving

The test of forgiving lies with healing the lingering pain of the past, not with forgetting that the past ever happened.
- Lewis B. Smedes
in Forgive and Forget
as quoted on God's Politics

King on injustice anywhere

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. 
- Martin Luther King, Jr.
as quoted on Twitter

Luther Foundation's ordination in Orthodox parish hall

The Luther Foundation is at it again.
Last Saturday, September 17, three new pastors were ordained by the Foundation's bishop Matti Väisänen (see blogs here and here) in the Orthodox parish hall in Kuopio (eastern Finland). The ELCF had denied them any venue for the ordination, so they turned to the Orthodox Church. Its leading bishop, Ambrosius, asked the Orthodox parish of Kuopio to refrain from giving space to a schismatic group in the Lutheran church, but went unheeded.
Two of the new pastors will work in eastern Finland, and the third, Sebastian Grünbaum, will build and coordinate a Swedish-speaking community in Turku in the south-west. Grünbaum has studied theology in Swedish at Åbo Akademi in Turku, where there are several strongly conservative students and teachers (among a moderate majority, I hasten to add). The Luther Foundation will thus probably reap more fruit from that Theological Faculty.

The Luther Foundation protests against female pastors and against the increasingly positive and humane attitudes towards sexual minorities within the ELCF. It is akin to the Mission Province in Sweden and has for some years ordained its own pastors. In 2010, it consecrated its own bishop. These acts are, of course, schismatic, and neither the bishop nor the pastors have any standing within the ELCF. The Foundation refuses, however, to take the logical step and form its own denomination, which would allow it to build ecumenical relations to other churches, e.g. the ELCF. Since it repeatedly breaks the rules of the ELCF, it can go on pretending that it is persecuted, which I suppose gives its members a sense of righteousness.
But I don't feel that it is quite honest to do so.
Kotimaa om Nokia och Luther (Kalles kyrkliga kommentarer 16.10.06)
Missionsprovinsen till Finland? (Kalles kyrkliga kommentarer 4.12.06)
Förfalskade präster (Kalles kyrkliga kommentarer 26.1.07)
Yle: Ortodoksit tarjoavat Luther-säätiölle tiloja pappisvihkimykseen (Kotimaa 10.8.11)
Ambrosius toivoo Kuopion ortodoksisen seurakunnan peruvan Luther-säätiö-päätöksen (Kotimaa 10.8.11)
Pappisvihkimys Kuopiossa 17.9.2011 (Suomen Luther-säätiö 30.8.11)
Lutherstiftelsen får svenskspråkig verksamhet (Kyrkpressen 5.9.11)
Konservativa ÅA-teologer stöder Lutherstiftelsen (Hufvudstadsbladet 7.9.11)
Luther-säätiö vihkii ”kolme uutta pastoria” (Kotimaa 8.9.11)
Lutherstiftelsen vigde tre nya egna präster (Hufvudstadsbladet 17.9.11)
Luther-säätiö vihkii yhä pappeja kirkon vastustuksesta huolimatta (Helsingin Sanomat 17.9.11)
Paarma ennustaa: Luther-säätiö lähtee kirkosta (Ilkka 18.9.11)
Ilkka: Paarma ennustaa Luther-säätiön lähtöä (Kotimaa 18.9.11)

Algeria: Siaghi Krimo

Convicting a Christian convert for insulting the prophet of Islam, a judge in Algeria stunned the Christian community by sentencing him beyond what a prosecutor recommended.
In Oran, 470 kilometers west of Algiers, a criminal court in the city’s Djamel district on May 25, 2011 sentenced Siaghi Krimo to a prison term of five years for giving a CD about Christianity to a neighbour who subsequently claimed he had insulted Muhammad. Krimo was also fined 200,000 Algerian dinars (US$2,760), according to Algerian news reports.
The prosecutor had reportedly requested the judge sentence him to a two-year prison sentence and a fine of 50,000 Algerian dinars (US$690).
The court tried Krimo based solely on the complaint filed by his neighbour, who accused him of attempting to convert him to Christianity.
“He gave a CD to a neighbour, and for that he has to spend five years in prison,” said the president of the Protestant Church of Algeria (EPA), Mustapha Krim, trying to contain his disbelief. “The hearing went well, and the lawyer defended well, yet in the end the judge gave him the maximum punishment.”

Authorities arrested Krimo on April 14 and held him in jail for three days. On May 4 he appeared before the court in Djamel, where the prosecutor requested the two-year sentence in the absence of the neighbour who had accused him – the only witness – and any evidence.
The punishment the prosecutor requested is the minimum for Algerians found guilty of insulting Muhammad or “the messengers of God,” or anyone who “denigrates the dogma or precepts of Islam, be it via writings, drawings, statements or any other means,” according to Article 144 of the Algerian Penal Code.
Krim said that if the courts start interpreting the law as it did in Krimo’s case, then the future of Algeria’s Christians is grim.
“If they start applying the law like that, it means there is no respect for Christianity,” Krim said, “and pretty soon all the Christians of Algeria will find themselves in prison. If the simple fact of giving a CD to your neighbour costs five years in prison, this is catastrophic.”

The court delivered its verdict the same week that the governor of the province of Bejaia ordered the closing of seven Protestant churches.
Asked if he thought the court had instructions from higher officials to hand down such heavy punishment to Krimo, Krim responded with no hesitation: “It’s certain!”

Algerian Christian Sentenced Beyond Prosecutor’s Request (CDN 30.5.11)

Wilde on agreement

Whenever people agree with me I always feel I must be wrong.
Oscar Wilde

Rwandan proverb

You can outdistance that which is running after you, but not what is running inside you.
- Rwandan proverb
as quoted on

Shaw asks "Why not?"

Some [people] see things as they are and ask why. Others dream things that never were and ask why not.
- George Bernard Shaw
as quoted on

The Father Brown stories

G. K. Chesterton: The Innocence of Father Brown (1911)
- The Wisdom of Father Brown (1914)
Gilbert Keith Chesterton (1874-1936) was one of the most influential English writers of the 20th century. His prolific and diverse output included journalism, philosophy, poetry, biography, Christian apologetics, fantasy and detective fiction.
In the last category are a couple of dozen of short stories featuring Father Brown, a short, stumpy Catholic priest. From London to Cornwall, then to Italy and France, he runs to earth bandits, traitors, killers. Why is he so successful?
The reason is that after years spent in the priesthood, Father Brown knows human nature and is not afraid of its dark side. Thus he understands criminal motivation and how to deal with it.

The stories, collected in the two volumes mentioned above, are not straightforward modern-day whodunnits, but have a more psychological and philosophical outlook. This makes them far more interesting.
They are, however, rather dated in some ways. They take place in a world where imperial England is the strongest power, and where the attitude of the white race towards other races is condescending at best.
If you can raise yourself above these issues and reach the heart of the stories without gagging on the inherent chauvinism and racism of the background, Father Brown is well worth the effort.

Nokia Missio sacked its leader, Markku Koivisto

In the beginning of the 1990's, Markku Koivisto was vicar in the small city of Nokia outside of Tampere in central Finland. The electronics company Nokia was founded in that city, if wou're wondering (and even if you're not). Anyway, Koivisto (no relation to Mauno Koivisto, the President of the Republic in 1982-94) arranged charismatic meetings in his parish. While this is all right, it was felt that he as vicar failed to meet his responsibility to all his parishioners, and thus he got into hot water with the Diocese of Tampere (which I blogged about at the time). In the end, he had to step down as vicar.
He then founded an organisation, Nokia Missio, that arranged meetings at home and abroad, and in 2008 was reorganised as an independent denomination with Koivisto as one of the most prominent leaders. Some free churches feared that Nokia Missio would steal their members, but this threat failed to materialise. While its meetings drew thousands of people, the actual membership of the church stayed at some 400 people. Finns are often naturally conservative.

In August, 2011, came the news that Koivisto was on sick leave, and at the end of the month, Nokia Missio informed that he had been sacked. Apparently, there had been some sexual misconduct on his part. Nothing illegal - thankfully, no children involved! - but immoral. There were speculations about homosexual harrassment.
When Koivisto returned from his sick leave, he claimed that no harrassment had taken place. Last Sunday (11.9.11), he made a statement to his congregation, admitting to "wrong choices", and in particular to a homosexual relationship. Since he was married (to a woman, if that is relevant), the relation was adulterous, which is regrettable. More serious in Koivisto's eyes, however, were the homosexual acts, which he denounced, quoting one of the "clobber passages" from Romans. After his statement, one of the pastors pronounced God's forgiveness and a whole team of pastors prayed for Koivisto. He then left the gathering, and his future is still open.

I am no great friend of either Nokia Missio or Markku Koivisto. I went to a meeting they had in Porvoo a few years back and was not impressed. Neither do I know exactly what now has occurred.
That said, I am gratified that Nokia Missio has taken action. All too often, sexual and other immorality (especially paedophilia) among religious and other leaders is swept under the rug in the name of forgiveness and mercy, and those responsible are not held accountable for their actions. Thus, the situation can continue for years on end, and many people can get hurt. This has happened internationally within the Roman Catholic church and in Finland within the Laestadian revival movement. Hopefully, that will not now be repeated in Nokia Mission. Apparently, whatever else might be said about that church, its leadership is not spineless. Good for them!
I am a bit miffed, however, since the main issue here seems to be Koivisto's apparent bisexuality, not his adultery, which I personally think is far more serious.
Markku Koivisto sivussa Nokia Mission toiminnasta (Kotimaa 19.8.11)
Nokia Mission tiedote 29.8.2011
Kyrkoherdens sexliv gav honom sparken i Nokia (Hufvudstadsbladet 30.8.11)
Nokia Missio erotti Markku Koiviston (Kotimaa 30.8.11)
Markku Koivisto erotettu Nokia Missiosta ( 30.8.11)
Koiviston tehtävistä vapauttamiseen ei liity rikosprosessia (Kotimaa 30.8.11)
Nokiamissionen har sparkat sin grundare (Dagen 31.8.11)
”Koivisto-kultti on median luomus” (Kotimaa 1.9.11)
Radio Dei: Koivisto ahdistellut seksuaalisesti miehiä (Kotimaa 2.9.11)
Markku Koivisto medgav homosexuell relation (STT through Vasabladet 11.9.11)
Markku Koivisto tunnusti syntinsä seurakunnalleen (Kotimaa 11.9.11)
Kohupastori Markku Koivisto myönsi suhteen mieheen (Helsingin Sanomat 11.9.11)
Markku Koivisto tuli kaapista (Dosentin ikkunasta: Raamattu, kirkko ja köyhyys 11.9.11)

Dickens on heart, temper, and touch

Have a heart that never hardens, a temper that never tires, a touch that never hurts.
- Charles Dickens
as quoted on

The rainbow of the soul

The soul would have no rainbow had the eyes no tears.
- John Vance Cheney
as quoted on

Punny humour

A dentist and a manicurist married. They fought tooth and nail. 
Thanks to Bailey's Buddy!

Hope on banking

A bank is a place that will lend you money if you can prove that you don't need it. 
- Bob Hope
as quoted on Twitter

Keller on ancestry

There is no king who has not had a slave among his ancestors,
and no slave who has not had a king among his.
- Helen Keller
as quoted by Jeez

Mexico: Josué Ramírez Santiago

On Sunday, April 10, 2011, some 500 worshippers were gathered for a worship service at the Christian Center El Shaddai in the Mexican city of Lázaro Cárdenas, Michoacan at about 8:15 AM when four masked men burst in firing machine guns into the air. Before the frightened believers realized what was happening, their pastor, Josué Ramírez Santiago, had been whisked away. The following day, the pastor’s family received news that the criminals wanted a ransom of 20 million pesos (US$1.7 million). Even if the family could raise such an immense sum – considered doubtful – payment would not guarantee that the victim would be returned alive.

Organized crime syndicates and drug cartels have targeted Christians because they view churches as revenue centers and because churches support programs for the rehabilitation of drug addicts and alcoholics. Furthermore, some 100 Mexican or foreign pastors who lived in Ciudad Juarez have had to abandon the city because of the threats and demands for money, and many pastors and their families have been victims of extortion, threats, kidnapping and homicide. 100 Mexican clergymen have been kidnapped in recent years, with 15 of them losing their lives to organized crime. 
Michoacan, the state where the abduction of Pastor Ramirez Santiago took place, has been a center of much criminal activity and also of severe reprisals by elements of the Mexican army.

Suspected Drug Traffickers Kidnap Pastor (CDN 15.4.11)

Estonia: "We do not tolerate homosexuality"

The Estonian Justice Chancellor Indrek Teder made a statement in May 2011, saying that Estonia should start registering partnerships, since the present system with exclusively heterosexual marriages doesn't give same-sex couples enough protection. In his opinion, the Constitution wouldn't bar a gender neutral marriage law, but that the time isn't ripe as yet. In 2010, the Conservative government stopped the preparations of a law on registered partnerships, but now the country has a new government.
In July, the Estonian Council of Churches (Eesti Kirikute Nõukogu), an ecumenical body consisting of the leaders of the Evangelical Lutheran and the Roman Catholic churches, the two Orthodox churches (Moscow and Constantinople) working in Estonia, and a number of Free Churches, sent an open letter to the Ministry of Justice as a reaction to the Chancellor's statement. "The Council of Churches does not tolerate homosexuality," they wrote, and claim that the traditional marriage is a guarantee for the stability of the Estonian people and the Estonian State.
Most regrettable.

Õiguskantsler: samasoolistel peab olema võimalus kooselu registreerida (Postimees 23.5.11)
Õiguskantsler soovitab samasooliste partnerlussuhted reguleerida (Delfi 23.5.11)
Postimees: Viron oikeuskansleri haluaa Viroon rekisteröidyn parisuhteen (Ranneliike 23.5.11)
Viron kirkot ilmoittavat, etteivät ne suvaitse homoseksuaalisuutta (Ranneliike 9.7.11)

Criticism and respect

Respect for the people’s word need not mean approval for whatever they say. Any criticism becomes constructive when based on a fundamental attitude of respect and listening.
- Clodovis Boff
Catholic theologian in Brazil
as quoted on God's Politics

Ten Boom on forgiveness

Forgiveness is the key that unlocks the door of resentment and the handcuffs of hate. It is a power that breaks the chains of bitterness and the shackles of selfishness.
- Corrie Ten Boom
as quoted on God's Politics

The Irish good Samaritan

A priest was preaching in a school in Ireland; his text the parable of the good Samaritan. As he went through the parable, he asked the children why they thought the priest and the Levite passed the injured man on the other side of the road, instead of going to help him.
One enthusiastic young boy put up his hand: "Because they could see he had already been mugged, Father".
Thanks to MadPriest!

MacLaine on campaign promises

It is useless to hold a person to anything he says while he's in love, drunk, or running for office. 
- Shirley MacLaine
as quoted on Child of Illusion

Dickinson on stopping heartbreak

If I can stop one heart from breaking, I shall not live in vain.
- Emily Dickinson
as quoted on

Seeing the Kingdom of God

People must not only hear about the kingdom of God, but must see it in actual operation, on a small scale perhaps and in imperfect form, but a real demonstration nevertheless.
- Pandita Ramabai
Indian Christian and reformer
as quoted on God's Politics

The Oz books

L. Frank Baum: The Oz books: 
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900)
The Marvelous Land of Oz (1904)
Ozma of Oz (1907)
Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz (1908)
The Road to Oz (1909)
The Emerald City of Oz (1910)
The Patchwork Girl of Oz (1913)
Tik-Tok of Oz (1914)
The Scarecrow of Oz (1915)
Rinkitink in Oz (1916)
The Lost Princess of Oz (1917)
The Tin Woodman of Oz (1918)
The Magic of Oz (1919)
Glinda of Oz (1920)
Lyman Frank Baum (1856–1919) was an American author, actor, and independent filmmaker best known as the creator, along with illustrator W. W. Denslow, of one of the most popular books ever written in American children's literature, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, better known today as simply The Wizard of Oz. He wrote thirteen sequels, nine other fantasy novels, and a plethora of other works, and made numerous attempts to bring his works to the stage and screen. (Wikipedia)
The fourteen Oz books, written during the two first decades of the last century, form a corpus of its own. To this corpus could be added a couple of books not set in the magical land of Oz, but whose heroes and heroines later figure in Oz books, as well - The Sea Fairies (1911) and Sky Island (1912).

These books are, of course, aimed at children. A true adult, however, is a person who retains many positive childish properties, while discarding the negative ones. Therefore, the Oz books can very well be used as light reading by adults as well. They are charming and have been purged of the darker elements of earlier fairy tales (e.g. the violence of the brothers Grimm stories).
At the same time, there is a strong moral element in the Oz books. The fight between good and evil has perhaps been scaled down to a struggle between naughty and nice, but it is there, nevertheless. The place of females (not women so much as girls, but anyway) is much more emancipated than one could expect from stories a century old - queens and generals, and of course Ozma and Glinda, are often female along with male rulers such as his imperial majesty the Tin Woodman.

I cordially recommend the Oz books for any child or (true) adult who wishes to be entertained and excited, but not horrified. I've used them as bedtime stories for my childish self, and enjoyed them all!

Prayers for partnerships: Reactions in southern Finland

Last year, the General Synod of the ELCF decided to allow prayers for couples in registered partnerships (i.e. same-sex couples) to be performed, as long as these events are clearly distiguishable from marriages. In February, the bishops, as requested, gave instructions on how these events should be performed in practise.

This has given rise to strong feelings in different parishes around the country.
In Huittinen, Sinikka Ritakallio, a member of the Church Council, wants the parish to refuse to perform such prayer meetings altogether. This is not, however, in the power of the Church Council to decide. The bishops have given their instructions, and they, not the Church Council, are the foremen of the pastors. The Church Council can decide not to allow these prayers to be performed in the church building, but that's it.
In Nurmijärvi, the Church Council has, slightly surprisingly, reached a compromise that allows same-sex couples to be prayed for in the chapel, but not in the main church. It is said that this practise would show that the church doesn't equate same-sex partnerships with heterosexual marriages. I agree that the idea is discriminatory, but isn't the chapel a consecrated building just as much as the church? Wherein lies the logic?
In my own parish in Porvoo, we have a preliminary order of service for the event that it would be needed. I worked it out with the clear intent to balance between the needs of the parishioners and the instructions of the bishops, and I think I succeeded. At least, my colleagues approved. The other day, I was accosted by a man in the street, who talked a lot about how God does not bless sin. He never specified, but I assume that it was in context with this question, since both the local paper Borgåbladet and the church newspaper Kyrkpressen interviewed me about it the week before. I didn't rebut, for he was so elliptical in his statements that I easily agreed: God does indeed not condone sin. Homosexuality, however, is not a sin, of course.

Huittisissa yritetään estää homoparien puolesta rukoilu (Turun Sanomat 25.2.11)
TS: Huittisissa halutaan estää rukous homoparien puolesta (Kotimaa 26.2.11)
Domkyrkoförsamlingen först med förbönsformulär (Kyrkpressen 20.7.11)
Rukoukset homosuhteiden puolesta kappeleissa (Nurmijärven Uutiset 27.7.11)
Nurmijärvellä parisuhderukoukset kappeliin (Kotimaa 29.7.11)

Saudi Arabia: Yohan Nese and Vasantha Sekhar Vara

Two Indian Christians imprisoned without charge in Saudi Arabia for attending a prayer meeting have been released. Yohan Nese (31) and Vasantha Sekhar Vara (28) had been arrested on January 21st, 2011 when religious police raided an apartment where they were attending a prayer meeting with other Indian nationals.
The two Christians were interrogated, beaten and pressured to convert to Islam. The next day they were sentenced to 45 days in prison on accusation of converting Muslims to Christianity. Both men were detained for much longer than their initial sentence, however, although no further charges were brought against them.

Vasantha was released on May 30th after 129 days of detention, whilst Yohan was released on July 12th after 172 days in prison.
The conditions in the prison were horrible. Cramped into a cell with 700 other prisoners with hardly enough room to stand, the two men had to sleep in shifts, taking it in turns to sit.
Soon after both Christians were released from prison, they left Saudi Arabia and returned to India.

Sources: Friends of the Martyred Church, Compass Direct

Schoolboy Howler

The Jews were a proud people, but always had trouble with unsympathetic Genitals.

"Plant your own garden"

Don't wait for someone to bring you flowers. Plant your own garden and decorate your own soul.
- Mario Quintana
as quoted on

"It's the fault of the gays!"

Earlier this year, I linked to a song on YouTube, called Bögarnas fel (The fault of the gays). This satirical song is written and performed by the Swedish comic group Grotesco, and I just loved it.
It has different people relating their woes and ascribing them to the gays. Some examples (my translation):
"My son killed four people with a hunting rifle, but somehow I feel it's the fault of the gays."
"My upbringing has made it impossible for me to be psychologically sound, but my family all agree: it's the fault of the gays!"
"The European Song Contest never seems to end, and it's the fault of the gays!"
Then enter a nun, a Moslem, and an orthodox Jew, all in distinctive garb, and sing about how all fundamentalism and all religious wars actually are the fault of the gays. It is rather hilarious, but unfortunately, of course, this satire is too close to the truth. Not that these things actually are the fault of the gays, I mean, but that this oratory is used far too often. There are preachers, for instance, who warn Sweden of earthquakes, floods and other calamities as divine retribution for a too permissive attitude tiwards homosexuality.
As I said, I loved this song. Except, perhaps, that the tune is so catchy, that it will ring in your head for a very long time...

I bring this up, because this song recently created some controversy. Grotesco performed it in the popular TV show Allsång på Skansen, a sing-along program aired from Skansen in Stockholm. As might have been expected, some people found it objectionable. Especially the satirical portrayal of Moslems, Jews, and Christians has been an irritant. The police are being asked to investigate whether the song contains hate speech.
The song does contain generalisations, to be sure. Not all Moslems, Jews, or Christians behave or talk as those portrayed. But some do, indeed, and it is those that are being satirized. We'll have to see what conclusions the investigation reaches.
I hope, however, that those objecting to the song take a good look in the mirror before taking legal action. The shoe is now on the other foot - are you sure that's not what irritates you?

Morality and the resources of the world

Feeling that morality has nothing to do with the way you use the resources of the world is an idea that can’t persist much longer. If it does, then we won’t.
- Barbara Kingsolver
in Backtalk
as quoted on God's Politics

No indifference to deliverance!

The heart which has been made free with the freedom of Christ cannot be indifferent to the human longings for deliverance from economic, political or social oppression.
- Samuel Escobar
Peruvian theologian
as quoted on God's Politics

Wells on clerical monogamy

The little lady in no degree embarrassed, pointed out to him a charming little woman as one of the subsidiary wives of the Anglican Bishop of London. She added encomiums on the episcopal courage - hitherto there had been a rule of clerical monogamy - "neither a natural nor an expedient development of things. Why should the natural development of the affections be dwarfed and restricted because a man is a priest?" 
- H. G. Wells
in The Sleeper Awakes (1910)

Three on capitalism

Experience demands that man is the only animal which devours his own kind, for I can apply no milder term to the general prey of the rich on the poor.
- Thomas Jefferson

You show me a capitalist, and I'll show you a bloodsucker.
- Malcolm X

The point is that you can't be too greedy.
- Donald Trump

The quotations found on Child of Illusion.

Anglican women in authority

From the Episcopal blog, Telling Secrets:
I am reminded of a (perhaps apocryphal) story from the Diocese of Western Michigan where, so it is said, there was a diocesan convention floor debate on what to call women priests.
In frustration, someone said, "Well, what DO Anglicans call women in authority?"
And someone else said, "Your Majesty."
Works for me.

"I am not afraid of tomorrow"

I am not afraid of tomorrow, for I have seen yesterday and I love today.
- William Allen White
as quoted on
Previously published on Kalles kyrkliga kommentarer.

Taking the USA to a very dark place

I want you to know that the fundamentalist political movement is the beginning of a cultural revolution that will take our nation to a very dark place. You have to understand that this has been methodically planned and is being carried out with the utmost vigilance. In accordance with their worldview, my old friends do not in the least care about what you think. They are against democracy, and they are seeking to end the rule of the majority in our great country.
They truly believe that if you have not been “saved,” you are living under a curse and are incapable of knowing what is best and that because of this you should be ruled over. You should also know they do not believe that even centuries-old Christian communities (Catholics, Anglicans, Greek Orthodox, etc.) are “saved,” only those who think like they do.
You might be thinking that a minority fundamentalist group of zealots can’t really take over the direction of a society. Just look at Iran, or the countless other places where people have allowed this to happen. 

Stoltenberg on showing love

If one man is able to show so much hatred, then how much love should not all of us be able to show? 

Prime minister Jens Stoltenberg
in Oslo Cathedral 24.7.11

King on head and heart

With loving regards to Norway:
One day we will learn that the heart can never be totally right if the head is totally wrong. Only through the bringing together of head and heart – intelligence and goodness – shall man rise to a fulfillment of his true nature.
- Martin Luther King Jr.
from Strength to Love, a collection of Dr. King's sermons,
as quoted on God's Politics

Franklin on arguing

Any fool can argue, and most fools do.
- Benjamin Franklin,
previously published on Kalles kyrkliga kommentarer

Heinlein on protocol

Anyone who considers protocol unimportant has never dealt with a cat.

The causes of arthritis

A man who reeked of alcohol flopped on a subway seat next to a priest. The man's tie was stained, his face was plastered with red lipstick, and a half empty bottle of rum was sticking out of his ripped jacket pocket.
He opened his newspaper and started reading. After a few minutes, the disheveled guy turned to the priest and asked: "Say, Father, do you know what causes arthritis?"
The priest, disgusted by the man's appearance and behavior snapped: "It's caused by loose living, being with cheap, wicked women, too much alcohol, and a contempt for your fellow man!"
"Well, I'll be," the man muttered and returned to his newspaper.
The priest, thinking about what he had said, nudged the man and apologized, "I'm sorry to have come on so strong - I didn't mean it. How long have you been suffering from arthritis?"
"I don't have it, Father. I was just reading here that the Pope does."
Thanks to Nina
- and to MadPriest!

Buechner on idolatry

Idolatry is the practice of ascribing absolute value to things of relative worth. Under certain circumstances money, patriotism, sexual freedom, moral principles, family loyalty, physical health, social or intellectual preeminence, and so on are fine things to have around, but to make them the standard by which all other values are measured, to make them your masters, to look to them to justify your life and save your soul is sheerest folly.
- Frederick Buechner
in Wishful Thinking
as quoted on God's Politics

Lewis on age

You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.
- C.S. Lewis
as quoted on

MadPriest on sin

If an action cannot be shown to be harmful without reference to a religious code it is not a sin. 

Marcus Aurelius on fear of death

It is not death that a man should fear, but he should fear never beginning to live.
- Marcus Aurelius, Roman Emperor
as quoted on

Voltaire on doubt and certainty

Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd.

Fuller on being alone

Sometimes I think we're alone. Sometimes I think we're not. In either case, the thought is staggering.
R. Buckminster Fuller

Mother Teresa on kind words

Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.
- Mother Teresa
as quoted on

Peddlers of God's word

Because all peddlers of God’s word have that in common, I think: they tell what costs them least to tell and what will gain them most; and to tell the story of who we really are, and of the battle between light and dark, between belief and unbelief, between sin and grace that is waged within us all, costs plenty and may not gain us anything, we’re afraid, but an uneasy silence and fishy stare.
- Frederick Buechner
as quoted on pacific grace
(hat tip to Mike, Graham, and MadPriest)

The Pope and I

I have as much authority as the Pope, I just don't have as many people who believe it.
- George Carlin

MadPriest on calling for sacrifice

It is always those who have a lot who call for sacrifices to be made. And when they do, they are usually talking to those who they have made sure have nothing to sacrifice in the first place.

Plautus on friendship

Nothing but heaven itself is better than a friend who is really a friend.
- Plautus, circa 200 BC
as quoted on

Zappa on stupidity and ignorance

Stupidity has a certain charm - ignorance does not.
- Frank Zappa
as quoted on Facebook

Sudan: Omar Hassan and Amouna Ahamdi

In Khartoum, (North) Sudan, a Christian couple with a newborn son said they have come under attack for converting from Islam to Christianity. Omar Hassan and Amouna Ahamdi fled Nyala, 120 km southwest of Al-Fashir, for Khartoum in June 2010, but knife-wielding, masked assailants on May 4th, 2011, attacked the couple after relatives learned that they had converted from Islam to Christianity. Hassan and his wife were renting a house from her uncle in Khartoum, but he ordered them to leave after learning they had left Islam. His wife was injured trying to protect him during the attack.
“I have been in Khartoum for six months, with no job to support my sick wife,” Hassan said. “Muslims invaded our house and, in an attempt to kill me, they knifed my wife Ahamdi in the hand.” Ahamdi said her brother had stabbed her three times in the stomach nine months ago, seriously injuring her spleen, after she told him she had become a Christian. “I feel pain, but my husband is alive, and we are praying that we get money for treatment for both my hand and the spleen,” she said.

In a violent outburst, her brother also broke her left leg. She was rushed to a local hospital, where personnel were reluctant to treat her because of her conversion. Ultimately she was hospitalized in Nyala Teaching Hospital for three weeks – where she met Hassan, a recent convert who had also suffered for his faith who visited her after hearing how her family hurt her. He said he found no one caring for her in her agony. He called an Episcopal Church of Sudan (ECS) pastor to help her, and she was discharged after partial recovery – to the hostile home where she had been attacked. “You don’t deserve to be a member of my family,” her angry father had shouted at her. Her family locked her in a room, shackled to a wooden chair, and severely beat her for a month. “I was badly mistreated – they shaved all my hair and my father whipped my head,” Ahamdi said. “But neighbors used to sneak in secretly and provided me food and water.” After freeing her from the chair, they restricted her movement to the property.
“I found a chance to escape to the ECS church, where I got married to Hassan,” she said. “My health continued deteriorating, and the doctors recommended that I be transferred to Khartoum for specialized treatment for my ailing spleen. With a small amount of money, we managed to reach Khartoum by train, where my uncle hosted us not knowing that we were Christians.” In Khartoum, they were unable to afford the medicine prescribed for her spleen. They depend on friends to provide them occasional food, and sometimes go without eating for two days. “We cannot deny Christ – this is a big challenge to us, because we do not have a place to go,” she said, through tears. “We have no food, and we are jobless. I am still in pain, besides having a 2-month-old baby boy to care for.”

(Friends of the Martyred Church)

Present-day Noah

In the year 2011, the Lord came unto Noah and said: "Once again, the earth has become wicked and over-populated, and I see the end of all flesh before me. Build another Ark and save two of every living thing along with a few good humans."
He gave Noah the blueprints, saying, "You have six months to build the Ark before I will start the unending rain for 40 days and 40 nights."

Six months later, the Lord looked down and saw Noah weeping in his yard - but no Ark.
"Noah!" he roared. "I'm about to start the rain! Where is the Ark?"
"Forgive me, Lord," begged Noah, "but things have changed. I needed a building permit. I've been arguing with the inspector about the need for a sprinkler system. My neighbors claim that I've violated the neighbourhood zoning laws by building the Ark in my yard and exceeding the height limitations. We had to go to the Development Appeal Board for a decision.
Then the Department of Transportation demanded a bond be posted for the future costs of moving power lines and other overhead obstructions, to clear the passage for the Ark's move to the sea. I told them that the sea would be coming to us, but they would hear nothing of it.
Getting the wood was another problem. There's a ban on cutting local trees in order to save the spotted owl. I tried to convince the environmentalists that I needed the wood to save the owls - but no go!
When I started gathering the animals, an animal rights' group sued me. They insisted that I was confining wild animals against their will. They argued the accommodations were too restrictive, and it was cruel and inhumane to put so many animals in a confined space.
Then the EPA ruled that I couldn't build the Ark until they'd conducted an environmental impact study on your proposed flood.
I'm still trying to resolve a complaint with the Human Rights Commission on how many minorities I'm supposed to hire for my building crew. Immigration and Naturalisation are checking the residential status of most of the people who want to work. The trades unions say I can't use my sons. They insist I have to hire only Union workers with Ark-building experience.
To make matters worse, the Tax Office seized all my assets, claiming I'm trying to leave the country illegally with endangered species. So, forgive me, Lord, but it would take at least 10 years for me to finish this Ark."
Suddenly the skies cleared, the sun began to shine, and a rainbow stretched across the sky.
Noah looked up in wonder and asked, "You mean you're not going to destroy the world?"
"No," said the Lord. "The Government beat me to it."
Thanks to MadPriest!

Justice and love

Justice is what love looks like in public.
- Cornel West
from Call and Response, a documentary on global slavery
as quoted on God's Politics

The Sleeper Awakes

H. G. Wells: The Sleeper Awakes (1910).
The "Sleeper", Mr. Graham, is a depressed insomniac who suddenly falls asleep in the last years of the 19th century and doesn't awake until over two hundred years later. He finds that his meagre money has been well managed in the meantime, and that with compound interest he has become the owner of the world.
Naturally, this means that many people have a deep interest in Graham. The Council, who are in charge of his fortune, want him to stay asleep so they can continue to rule. The downtrodded masses have a superstitious expectation of the Paradise that will arrive when the Sleeper awakes. A fellow named Ostrog manages to wake him and overthrow the Council, in order to rule in Graham's name, while keeping him ignorant of the world of the 22nd century.
After learning of the plight of the people, Graham seizes power himself and inspires the people to fight against their oppressors. The book ends as this battle seems to be victorious, but Graham himself is on the verge of being killed when his aeroplane crashes.

Wells, as usual, describes the world in a thought-provoking way. Graham's egalitarian and democratic ideals are sympathetic, but he lets himself be fooled by the power-hungry Ostrog, who isn't such a champion of the people as he gives himself out to be. Have we seen that before, I wonder? The class society of the 22nd century is a reflection of Imperial England of Wells' time, even to the fact that the lowest classes can be recognized by their uncouth dialect. The power of international corporations over all other political, spiritual, and social forces is well described, while carrying it to its extreme.
The development of the hundred years since the book was written has, of course, carried us in directions different to what Wells describes. The difference, however, is one of detail only, I fear. The trend of power for its own sake and the trend of economic power being the strongest one is, indeed, still to be seen.
One can only hope that we and our decendants will be able to break these trends and create a more humane society than that which the Sleeper awakes to.